Denmark becomes only European country with no COVID curbs

New infections have eased as vaccination rates have climbed, reaching more than 70 percent of the overall population.

Denmark introduced COVID passports in March 2021 as part of a gradual easing of rules [File: Tim Barsoe/Reuters]

Denmark has become the only European country with no coronavirus-related restrictions in place, as vaccine rates have reached more than 70 percent of the population.

The return to normality has been gradual, but as of Friday, the digital pass – proof of having been vaccinated – is no longer required when entering nightclubs, making it the last COVID-19 safeguard to fall.

“It’s been a rough couple of years. I have three kids and we have had homeschooling and it’s been a lot of hard days,” resident Klaus Sylvester said.

“It’s quite liberating that Denmark no longer has restrictions.”

In June, Iceland had also lifted all its COVID-19 measures – only to reimpose them after cases spiked again.

Denmark introduced COVID-19 passports in March 2021 as part of a gradual easing of rules.

On August 1, it lifted the COVID pass requirement at museums and indoor events with fewer than 500 people, before ditching it for major events, while masks have not been required on public transport since mid-August.

On Saturday, a sold-out concert in the capital, Copenhagen, will welcome 50,000 people, a first in Europe.

Danish authorities insist the virus is under control, with about 500 daily cases and a reproduction rate of 0.7.

Vaccines have been swiftly rolled out, with 73 percent of the 5.8 million population fully vaccinated, and 96 percent of those 65 and older.

Patrons are seen at the “Det Elektriske Hjoerne” bar in Copenhagen during the night between September 2 and 3, 2021 [File: Ritzau Scanpix/AFP]

Cautious optimism

However, optimism was tempered on Friday as the World Health Organization’s (WHO) director for Europe warned that vaccines were not likely to end the pandemic for good.

Instead, jabs will help prevent serious disease and death, though the virus is likely to be around for years to come as it mutates, Hans Kluge told reporters in Copenhagen.

“We should anticipate how to gradually adapt our vaccination strategy to endemic transmission and gather really precious knowledge about the impact of additional jabs.”

Denmark made third doses available to vulnerable groups as of Thursday, and Health Minister Magnus Heunicke said vaccines played an important role in helping the country return to normal.

But he struck a cautious note.

“Daily life is basically back to normal, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be any danger down the road,” Heunicke said on Friday.

“The virus has mutated several times, so I can’t make any guarantees. But with this many people vaccinated, we are well set,” he told Danish television TV2.

Christian Nedergaard, who owns several restaurants in Copenhagen, said that while everyone is happy about the return to normal life, “the situation is still complicated”.

“The memory of coronavirus will fade very quickly from some people’s minds but not for everyone, and for restaurants this period has for sure been a game changer,” he said.

Denmark is now the only nation in Europe to have no restrictions in place [File: Ritzau Scanpix / AFP]
Source: News Agencies